Thursday, March 3, 2016

Balboa Park and Botanical Building, 2/19/2016

Located near downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the US. Fifteen major museums, performing arts venues, luscious gardens, and the San Diego Zoo are all part of this amazing park. The architecture and landscaping are the legacy of the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition (commemorated the opening of the Panama Canal) featuring Spanish-Renaissance buildings and the 1935-36 Pacific International Exposition (held to boost local economy after the Depression). 

We visited the park several times during our month-long stay in San Diego to see the zoo and several museums. On our last day before leaving the area, we wandered around Balboa Park to see some of the amazing architecture here. 

The Botanical Building and Lily Pond in one of the most photographed sites in San Diego. Built in 1915, it is one of the world's largest wood lath structures. 

There are over 2,100 tropical plants in the permanent collection. We loved the orchids and bromeliads. 

The Alcazar Garden was created in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition. Inspired by the 14th century Royal Alcazar garden of Seville, Spain, it is a lovely retreat in Balboa Park today just as it was during the exposition.

Plaza De Panama has the San Diego Museum of Art to the north with a beautiful fountain. To the east is the beautiful California Tower. And to the south is El Cid Campeador, a sculpture by Anna Hyatt Huntington in 1927, it is a 23' high bronze statue of El Cid, legendary hero of Spain. This is one of several identify statues...the original is in front of the Hispanic Society of New York City. This one was dedicated here in 1930.

There are multiple performance venues at Balboa Park including the following:

The Old Globe is a leading regional theatre and California's oldest profession theatre organization. More than 500 performances are held here annually on its three stages.

Casa Del Prado Theatre (the oldest youth theatre in the US) is today home to the San Diego Youth Ballet, San Diego Junior Theatre, and San Diego Youth Symphony.

Year-round performances are held at The Spreckles Organ Pavilion on the world's largest outdoor pipe organ.

This is only a fraction of the many sights to enjoy at Balboa Park. Be sure to stop by the Visitor Center for a map and information about the many museums and gardens. Tours are also offered daily that start at the Visitor Center. There are also restaurants, shops, and other attractions here. For additional information, see their website at

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